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Death by Leisure: A Cautionary Tale Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publisher : Grove Press (January 19, 2010)
- ASIN : B00AFYVCY4
- Publication date : January 19, 2010
- Print length : 321 pages
- File size : 952 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,558 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Ayres was probably the ideal choice of reporter to cover a world as quirky and sometimes downright surreal as L.A. and Hollywood. And the memoir he has produced of his first few years in la-la land will make you laugh out loud while simultaneously wincing in agonized recognition: you realize that you and everyone you know has made at least some of Ayres's idiotic mistakes. Racking up credit card debt on food delivery services, spending so much on a high-definition flat-screen television so that he can't afford to pay his rent, and ultimately buying a house using some of that now-infamous floating-rate mortgage financing.... It seems there is scarcely a single foible that Ayres avoided. He even starts driving a block or two to pick up his morning coffee, instead of walking.
But then, as Ayres cheerfully admits, he's a big fan of American culture - particularly the part of it that allows people to understand the risks of their behavior - and then ignore them. He's ruthlessly honest about his own mistakes. The ownership of his new HDTV, for instance, demonstrates to his (male) peers "my stealth in the retail wilderness, my mastery of advanced financing tools; my bravery in the face of certain obsolescence." And as he recounts his own antics, including his plot to meet girls while selling his furniture on Craigslist in order make that pesky rent payment, he's simultaneously chronicling the bigger picture for his London newspaper. He writes about obese bears getting fat on human food, cappuccino cows (cows bred to produce milk that froths better), the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson's pedophilia trial, and Scott Peterson. And the weird weather - wildfires, hurricanes, imported smog in California and suicidal giant squid in the Pacific Ocean.
Gradually, Ayres makes the connection between his personal habits - consuming gargantuan amounts of electricity, gasoline and debt - and the slowly emerging economic and environmental woes. That epiphany doesn't always make him happy. "I'm a big fan of bubbles ... they're my idea of a good time," Ayres argues. A bubble is all about short-term thinking and human beings, by definition, are creatures of the extreme short term, he contends. So it takes a while for Ayres to adjust to the new realities. Even after meeting the woman of his dreams, he heads off to Vegas to try and gamble his way toward a downpayment on his house. Needless to say, he loses - but then his agent sells his first book to a publisher and the advance finances a Range Rover, as well as a house on top of 16 fault lines in a landslide area and fire hazard zone. With an adjustable rate mortage issued by a now-defunct banking institution.
It isn't long before interest rates start to climb, and Ayres must confront reality - including "feelings of deep personal animosity toward the chairman of the Federal Reserve" after those rate hikes cause his adjustable rate mortgage to, um, adjust - upwards. I won't spoil the fun by telling you how Ayres tries to come to terms with his own folly and that of the country's other residents. I'll just say that the whole book is a wry, self-deprecating and offbeat look at the excesses of the last few years, disguised as an expat's memoir of life in California. Read it and weep - often with laughter.
To some degree this is amusing. To some degree it is also ironic. Unfortunately it is not enough. Plus it is way over the top in its descriptions of what really happens. This exaggeration really takes away from the narrative in that it reduces the author's credibility. The reader just can never be sure where reality leaves off and exaggeration begins. In addition, the book does have some wit but the problem is, like the degree of amusement and irony it offers, it just does not offer enough.
In short a book that is only somewhat amusing, witty and ironic with too much exaggeration and a resulting lack of credibility that prevents a reader from taking it too seriously. Good for a light and quick read but, unfortunately, not much else.
This is a book one can spread out reading over months or even longer. Each chapter doesn't quite stand on it's own, but is something like an episode of a good TV sitcom. You could pick a random chapter, never having read the book, and likely be plenty entertained even if you'd be missing a bit of context.
Ayres is, at once, pompous and self depricating. Not everyone may find that amusing including the reviewer here calling him a "self involved dolt". But this book is likely a fun read for anyone who's spent any time in, has knowlege of, or is genuinely curious about, Los Angeles. Most of the book is centered on a Brit's view of the colorful US city. And while there's side commentary about financial excess, global warming, and social irresponsibility, it's mostly a funny book about LA.
Ayres borrows a bit from the likes of PJ O'Rourke and David Sedaris. As different as those two authors are, if you like either of them, you will likely enjoy Death by Leisure.